When Tabetha Magnuson learned that the street where a man jumped on her son was the scene of several similar incidents, she posted on the Renton Crime and Safety Facebook page and warned others about the area.
As a mother of four, Magnuson uses the site to learn more about what’s happening in different areas of Renton, make better decisions, and communicate with her neighbors about safety concerns in her neighborhood.
“Are those guns or fireworks in the highlands? Anyone know?” she posted on March 12.
When she sees burglaries in her area, she knows she needs to stay extra vigilant and make sure her doors are locked.
Renton residents have increasingly turned to social media to discuss social media issues and incidents of crime.
On the Ring Doorbell app — an application for property owners to monitor their Ring security devices — neighbors share questions about the sounds of potential gunshots, the faces of package thieves caught on camera, and reports of police sirens in the area.
On Facebook, over 14,500 Renton residents have joined the Renton Crime and Safety page since the page was created in 2019.
Magnuson said while she didn’t believe everything she reads on the site, the site fills a gap with quick information related to crime and security incidents.
“There’s almost no information whenever something happened,” Magnuson said. “I will continue [look for] a newsfeed or something, and I don’t feel like it’s even out there, but I can find some of the information about what’s happening via [the Facebook page]and sometimes a bit faster.”
The information ranges from reports of gunshots to missing pets to questions about purple lights on the freeway.
In addition to reporting incidents, commentators also debate crime and policing issues such as vehicle pursuits and whether the police should be called to a person using drugs in public.
In a call for comment from the Renton Crime and Safety page on the importance of the page to its users, Administrator Johanna Rasmussen said the page serves as a platform for individual and community advocacy.
“As a community, we are beyond frustrated and tired of being victims while criminals roam free,” Rasmussen commented.
Magnuson said a number of users “go a little beyond” with more extreme and volatile posts.
“Let ’em bleed dry,” read one comment on a post related to a recent vehicle collision on March 8 involving teenage passengers in a stolen Kia, critically injuring three of the teenagers.
A comment on another post about the 11th Circuit legislature’s vote against House Bill 1363, which would increase the number of situations in which police could pursue suspects, called for the “politicians… to be charged with treason.”
Magnuson said she tries not to engage in cursory comments.
“I think there are people who love to … just upset others and have some … toxic dialogue,” Magnuson said. “And then there are others … who are right to remind them that this is supposed to be a site where we get information.”
Magnuson believes the site helps allay people’s concerns about crime by providing them with information that isn’t readily available elsewhere.
“This site has been great for real-time updates on criminal activity to watch out for, but I’d love to see us take it a step further to learn how to prevent and address it on a larger scale,” read the Another user’s post on the call for comments.